May 27th, 2012
05:44 AM ET

Letters to the President #1224: 'Nice guys finish'

Reporter's Note: President Obama receives a letter from me every day. He’s lucky that way.

Dear Mr. President,

Here is a cry of praise for nice guys and gals; folks who believe in good manners, speaking softly, sharing credit and blame, doing a good job, encouraging others, remembering the humanity of all they meet, and keeping the peace even if it means losing their place.

I mention it because Mitt Romney recently referred to you as a nice guy and then followed it up by kicking your teeth out; saying something along the lines of you’re nice but that doesn’t mean you know beans about running a country.

Whether he is right or wrong, I feel the need to speak up for nice people.

For many years, I have labored away in a tough profession. Journalism is full of people who are mentally and physically steeled for combat every day; who know that each sunrise can bring brutal encounters with the rick, powerful, and thuggish souls who roam the earth and who don’t always take kindly to quests for truth.

And I’ve always had colleagues who insist you can’t do that job well if you are nice.

I think they are wrong. Over my years of reporting I have met many people who are political giants, corporate CEO’s, superstar celebrities, and tough-as-nails journalists. Some are jerks. Some are nice. And I’ve found the most talented, brilliant ones tend to fall into the second category. To be honest, I’ve always thought that people who think they can succeed only if they are jerks do so because they really aren’t very smart or talented; they are insecure because of their weaknesses and try to build themselves up by tearing others down. It’s a shame really.

So, like I said, while I’ll express no opinion about you or Mr. Romney on this matter, I will say this: Nice guys don’t have to finish last. Nice guys can finish wherever they wish if they have the talent and toughness.

And when a nice guys and gals win, I think we all win a bit with them.

Hope your weekend is going well.